On this side of the pond be quiet isn't as popular a company as many others here. I have seen the name out and about on forums and in various news blasts, but I never really took a deep look into this German manufacturer. One immediately assumes that with a name like be quiet, silence is the main thing addressed with all of what they sell that is actively cooled.
Backed with SilentWings fans and what keeps the noise levels down in such products, they claim that, specifically in the CPU coolers, that these fans offer a perfect blend of near silent operation and the performance needed to still push a processor well into the overclocked range and still have acceptable levels of control of the temperatures.
Being a company that has won various awards over their ten year history, one would think the US market would be flooded with their products, but it took me to go to their site to actually see the vast amount of products offered by be quiet. They cover power supplies for various factors including laptops, they offer various fans and a noise absorber kit and it seems they have six various designs in CPU cooling currently listed. Of these there is the Shadow Rock and Dark Rock series of coolers and it is from the latter series that our first sample derives.
As I looked around at all the products I found two things that seemed to be universal to all of their offerings. All of the coolers have the SilentWings fans attached to them and all of the offerings are black in color. What separate them are fan size, TDP capabilities and the style of the coolers with the C-type, the tower and the twin-tower designs.
With no preconceived notions, or anything to go off of with be quiet, this venture will be as new to me as I test and use the Dark Rock 2 CPU cooler. Looking at the information provided on the site, I do hope this cooler is in fact silent and is able to handle my hot processor as I put it through its paces. As I mentioned, with a company name like be quiet, I think the sound issues being taken care of is a given, it's more the fact of what is their version of "acceptable performance levels" when I turn up the heat and really push the Dark rock 2.
Stick it out through the specifications and the images, as I think the results will not only speak for themselves, but may make be quiet a name you won't soon forget when it comes to purchasing your next CPU air cooler.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The tower cooler from be quiet is built from a milled copper base, to which six 6mm heat pipes are soldered into the base, both of which are then nickel plated. These six pipes are pressed into 44 aluminum fins with a "V-wedge" taken out of the leading edge of each fin. This is then topped with a brushed aluminum cover that gets anodized black and bears the be quiet name in chrome letters in the center. Dimensionally the cooler is roughly 160mm from the CPU IHS to the top of the cooler and 120mm wide and 73mm deep. These are dimensions without the fan. This will increase the overall height as well as the width when a fan is installed.
Speaking of the fan, you get a single 135mm SilentWings PWM fan with a four-pin connection to cool this beefy tower. The fan states it has a super low dBA rating of 21.2 while at full speed of 1300 RPMs. The seven, specially designed blades with grooves in them, is supported with a Fluid Dynamic Bearing and is rated to continue to spin for up to 300,000 hours of operation. The fan also has a soft plastic, almost rubber-like fan frame. As it sits against the fins, it will leave marks in the frame as the leading edges of the frame act as an anti-vibration measure when the combination is together and cooling your processor. On that note, you can be using anything from socket 754 on AMD and LGA775 on Intel, right on up to all of the latest sockets with the Dark Rock 2.
I am sad to say that as much as I tried, I wasn't able to locate the be quiet line at any of the major e-tailors on this side of the pond. That isn't to say they won't be here, just not yet. For those of you on the other side of the Atlantic, the press release delivered a few weeks back had an MSRP attached with the press release of 55 Euros. Doing a direct conversion for those who don't follow global economics, that is roughly $69 dollars for the Dark Rock 2.
That in mind, I am eager to test this cooler and see what sort of potential it has. There have been a few cooler to pass across my desk lately in this range lately from Cooler Master and Xigmatek. Let's see how be quite stacks up against a couple of major players that everyone is already accustomed to.
I mentioned they had a thing for black themes and the packaging doesn't get left out. Around the image of the included Dark Rock 2 there are things like being LGA2011 compatible, the 180 Watt TDP being mentioned and the statement "no compromise silence and performance" has my interests peeked.
Spinning to the right we run into a bit of what makes the Dark Rock 2 special. It includes the 180W capability that allows for overclocking, the SilentWings fan, the six heat pipes, the use of high grade materials and the included three year warranty are all points to consider when making a cooler purchase.
On the back there is a brief mission statement from be quiet just above diagrams of the cooler with the features pointed out. At the bottom you find a full list of specifications for both the cooler and the included fan.
The last panel offers the same information as its opposite panel, just that this time it has been printed in three other languages.
Inside of the box there is a sandwich of high density foam surrounding both sides of the Dark Rock 2. An additional piece is used to protect the base, while the hardware box on the right acts as the coolers protection from the top.
be quiet! Dark Rock 2 CPU Cooler
Looking at the front of the Dark Rock 2, you can see the choice of the SilentWings 135mm fan is a great choice as it covers almost all of the surface area of the fins behind it.
The sides are pretty square with just a groove to allow the thick wire fan mount to clip in here for mounting it. I'm sorry to say, but here isn't a dual fan mounting option unless you get creative with zip ties or rubber bands.
As for the back of the cooler, there isn't much spectacular with shaping or design, be quiet left as much material as possible here to increase the overall surface area, which should lead to a better performing cooler with less need for high air flow active cooling.
The top of the cooler is a plate of brushed aluminum with crosshairs targeting the be quiet name in the center of the cooler. The caps aren't the actual pipe ends, but it does denote their offset pattern as they pass through the fins.
On the opposite end of the Dark Rock 2 you can see the six copper heat pipes as they make tight bends from the copper base to make it to the staggered orientation through the fins. Both the base and the pipes get an anti-oxidation coating of darkened nickel, which is also appealing to look at.
I removed the protective sticker to have a look at the base and I found it is finely polished along with being flat across the majority of this surface. The edges do round over a bit near the edge that you mount hardware to, but it well past the IHS on my 2600K.
Removing the fan allows you to get a look at the design of the leading edge. Each fin is cut with a V-notch and has a saw-toothed paten to them. That allows for the fan to have a bit more room to breathe and build pressure in the middle while the tips of the fins disturb the air to help transfer more heat out of the fins.
This is what I meant when I brought up the edges on these Silent Wings fans. As you can see, where the saw-toothed pattern touches this fan frame, the frame allows them to press into the frame eliminating vibrations.
Accessories and Documentation
First off you get the BQT T13525-Mf-PWM fan with its 1300 RPM maximum and the 200mm cable terminating in a four-pin fan connector.
The box of hardware, which was on top of the cooler as you open the packaging, is full of all kinds of assorted hardware to go along with the various sockets this cooler is compatible with.
Flanking both sides are the AMD mounting brackets with the Intel 1155/1156 brackets sitting between the 1366/775 brackets in the middle. At the bottom, on the left are four black spacers and on the right are the mounting screws that pass through the motherboard.
In this image we have the LGA2011 brackets surrounding the wrench that is used for both the 2011 specific screws on the left and the nuts that secure the brackets for the rest of the sockets as well as this 2011 hardware.
Here we have the padded, universal backplate to get the Dark Rock 2 installed. You also get a packet of 3mm M3 screws to mount the appropriate brackets to the base of you cooler for installation along with a small syringe of TIM to get you on your way to cooling.
The paperwork that comes with the cooler offers a full parts list so that you can be sure you are ready to go ahead and install the cooler before you get part way in and realize you are missing something. As for the installation instructions, considering the limited space with the multiple languages being covered, they still manage to do a thorough job of describing the steps with both really good drawings and text to alleviate any confusion.
Installation and Finished Product
Since I am using an LGA1155 motherboard, I simply inserted the screws through the correct holes in the back plate. As you can see the plate is cut to allow the socket screws some clearance. On the right and left asides, these are the holes for the various AMD sockets.
The spacers are actually tight enough in the middle to get a grip on the screws. This allows you to keep the backplate on the board while you get the cooler ready to install on top of these screws and spacers.
Next to the base of the cooler there are two holes on either side that allow you to use the 3mm M3 screws to secure the appropriate brackets to the base of the cooler depending on the socket you are using. Here I have the LGA1155/1156 brackets on; all I need is some TIM and those four nuts.
The Dark Rock 2 is a bit larger than the others we have recently looked at, but somehow this cooler still leaves room for memory and isn't an issue with PCI-e slots.
See what I mean? There is plenty of clearance to even allow for most low to medium height heat spreaders. The tallest of spreaders still may cause a conflict, but with so many choices out there now, why limit things with tall memory.
Looking at the cooler from the front shows that even if you do have some tall memory, there is still room to be able to move the fan up to make a bit more room, but will increase the height of the cooler. On the flip side, if you are running those low profile Samsung sticks, you can lower the fan and add a bit of airflow to the motherboard.
Test System Setup and Thermal Results
I would first like to thank HIS and GIGABYTE for supplying products for me to test with.
Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows.
For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. For the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans.
For the sound testing results, I obtain those while I am controlling the voltage at 7.5V and 12V as well. Sorry for the change in the charts again, but I got the full effect of AVX support and 104 Gflops now, so the older results don't directly apply to the results I get now.
In order to get the 27 degree reading at stock speeds, I had to manually raise the fan speed to 7.5 volts to get these average results. As you power up the PC with PWM in control of the fan, I had times at idle when the ambient temperature was cool enough that the fan stopped running and would allow temperatures to climb a touch higher than these results before the fan would kick back on.
At stock the Dark Rock 2 falls just behind the Xigmatek and Cooler Master tower coolers, but just by a couple of degrees. With the overclock applied, again it was just behind the other two tower coolers on the list, but this cooler is virtually silent in any range of operation where the others are very audible solutions to use.
Noise Level Results
This is by far one of the most silent coolers I have had the pleasure of using in quite a while. It is more silent than most of the coolers on the idle listings with the 29 dB rating I got with 7.5V going to the fan.
Once 12 V is pushed through the fan, there isn't much of an increase at all to the level of sound coming from the CPU cooler. With it registering at 42 dB, this cooler needs you to be very close to it to be able to hear it at all and I mean like your whole head in the case close.
I am really sort of torn with the Dark Rock 2 from be quiet and not for any reason that should call fault to anything about the cooler, it is the fact that a fair percentage of my readers won't have the ability to purchase this cooler any time real soon. I went to custom water cooling years ago to get good results with less and less noise coming from my PC with every build I completed. If reasonably priced coolers like this were around when I made the jump to water cooling, it may have kept me from making that leap.
The Dark Rock 2 is aesthetically appealing, who doesn't like a large black tower cooler taking care of business inside of the case? The crosshair design on the top would even lend itself well to all of these new motherboards with gun parts and bullets on them.
The Dark Rock 2 is a little bigger than both of the coolers I previously mentioned, but that is partially due to the fact that be quiet delivers almost absolute silence in their SilentWings fan operation, that it takes a fair bit more material to have enough surface area to be able to deliver the competing results we saw in the charts. Considering the noise level difference in the three tower coolers on the chart, I have to give the edge to be quiet. For similar money you get great performance, silence and an attractive addition to any build.
There really was not one thing I that I can think of that comes to mind for faults with the Dark Rock 2. In this cooler be quiet delivers a full set of hardware to get this cooler onto all of the latest sockets including quite a few from years gone by. Once assembled the cooler is very secure and is generous to the memory area without causing too much issues with memory heat spreaders, the list goes on and on.
With the price point of 55 Euros for those shopping on the right side of the ocean and hopefully they start to full shelves in the US market soon, I really want to recommend this cooler to my friends, but alas they cannot obtain them and that is the only real disappointment that raises its head in this whole review. If you have access to buy on, the be quiet Dark Rock 2 is a great cooler considering everything as a full package.